European Union 2.0

A man hold a placard reading 'Help Europe' as Syrian and Afgan refugees attend a protest rally to demand to travel to Germany
A man hold a placard reading 'Help Europe' as Syrian and Afgan refugees attend a protest rally to demand to travel to Germany on September 2, 2015 outside the Keleti (East) railway station in Budapest. Hungarian authorities face mounting anger from thousands of migrants who are unable to board trains to western European countries after the main Budapest station was closed. AFP PHOTO / FERENC ISZA (Photo credit should read FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images)

"I have a dream." I still have a dream, and I am declaring it here, in the same spot where -- exactly 52 years ago -- Martin Luther King Jr. uttered the words that shook the world. This dream of mine has a name: the United States of Europe. The crisis which currently affects Europe forces implores us to consider the federal republic as a solution; the only possible solution.

The migration crisis, and the horrifying, daily expanding death toll, emphasizes how our inability to act as a single entity condemns us. The ongoing turmoil and the presence of authoritarian regimes near the borders of the European Union -- in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Eritrea -- trigger forced migration flows that no single European country can singlehandedly address. If we continue to proceed in this unorganized manner, the only winners will be the voices of rage, hatred, and xenophobia, as well as the professional scaremongers, who add fuel to the fire in every nation for the sake of swaying the electorate one way or the other.

Europe cannot close its doors to people who are fleeing war and persecution, as this would entail betraying the fundamental values which make it a model worldwide. Barbed wire fences will also tear at the fabric of its soul. The European Commission has taken a step in the right direction, by convincing member states, for the first time ever, to distribute a certain number of refugees among them, on a voluntary basis. But this is clearly not enough. We have to move quickly towards a single European asylum system, which would not abandon the countries where refugees first arrive or their final destination. This goal can only be achieved if we finally agree to a system of shared sovereignty, if we reach a level of political integration that would give us the tools we need to manage migration without being overwhelmed by it.

This is also necessary with regards to the economy. It is now increasingly clear -- even more so while standing in the United States -- that we cannot adequately respond to the challenges of global competition if we stay attached to our small states. Instead, EU countries must join forces, to bolster the resources and potential of one of the richest and most developed regions of the world.

Europe -- more Europe -- is the answer to many of our problems. Too many of our citizens, however, now tend to view Europe as the problem, the cause of the deep malaise that has submerged our continent's societies. Europe is blamed for unemployment, austerity, and lack of prospects for youth.

For my generation, the generation of the baby boomers, born in the 1960s, Europe was a thrilling word; like a beautiful, exhilarating symphony performed years ago by great artists from different countries: Adenauer, Schuman, De Gasperi, to mention but a few. In a speech that he delivered in Zurich in 1946, Winston Churchill stated, "We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living." We must ask ourselves why that music now seems so out of tune to the ears of so many people, especially youth. The fact is that our performance of the musical score has become less inspired and less harmonic. Europe now marked by the harsh face of austerity, short-sighted belt-tightening, never-ending sacrifices, and "rescue packages" that have been adopted with total disregard for their social impact on millions of people. This Europe cannot rally much enthusiasm. And many national political leaders prefer to focus on instant domestic consensus -- tested through daily polls -- rather than dedicate their efforts to a project that may seem unpopular. But we will no longer find the solution in the comfort of our own homes. Paradoxically, this truth becomes more evident when one steps outside the European Union. The fact that President Obama understands this was highlighted when he voiced his concerns during the Greek crisis. And he has not concealed his doubts about the possibility of a British exit from the Union.

Complex supranational issues, such as the ones we currently need to address, require a new tool, a different European Union. A 2.0 version of the EU, as the digital generation might say. This could be in the form of the United States of Europe, as I mentioned earlier: a single, solid entity based on solidarity, which disperses our common burden to lighten the burden for everyone. A Union that shares resources and talents, thereby multiplying them and creating a critical mass. We should also draw inspiration from the fundamental lesson of American federalism, "United we stand, divided we fall," which they sang more than two centuries ago during the first battles for independence. We should adopt this motto in Europe today. We cannot sit still and do nothing, otherwise, we would be handing Europe over to the demagogic scaremongers. And that would be a great problem for everyone, within and outside of Europe.

Ms. Boldrini is currently in New York to participate in the 10th Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament and in the 4th World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

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